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Interested in biking across the country

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Interested in biking across the country

Old 01-04-07, 08:43 PM
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Interested in biking across the country

I am interested in biking across the country (actually circumnavigating it). Since I am a father, husband and have a full time job, I will be doing this in sections.

Question 1 - Do I buy a regular road bike, or a beefier bike. I am planning to do this in 1 to 2 week increments and would like to carry my gear (tent, sleeping bag, stove, cooking pot.......). I have seen little trailers people tote behind them, but am not sure if this impacts the type of bike I would be looking at.

I am also interested in doing Olympic distance tri's and don't want to own 2 bikes.

Guidance and experience is greatly appreciated.

Peace be with you.
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Old 01-04-07, 08:47 PM
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There's a long distance cycling thread that may have more answers for you:

https://www.bikeforums.net/long-distance-competition-ultracycling-randonneuring-endurance-cycling/

Personally, I'd want something light, very comfy (maybe more upright), and lots and lots of gears, able to use different width tires, etc... like a cross bike with a triple.

as for Tri's, you could probably just use clip on aero bars with whatever you get, but it most likely wouldn't be ideal for that type of distance triathalon... Tri's & riding cross country I think would require 2 totally different bikes for your own benefit.... benefit being comfort, adaptability, and gearing for riding cross country vs. aerodynamic and lightweight for Tri's.
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Old 01-04-07, 10:38 PM
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Last summer, there was a story in the local paper about a guy who was running the length of every US highway whose number corresponded to his age. He was 69 years old last summer, so he was running US-69 from Texas to Minnesota. The story said he did this solo, with no support crew or anything.

I wondered how he did this all by himself. Turns out he has a van and a beater bicycle. He drives about 5 miles up the road, pulls out the bike and rides back to the starting point, leaves the bike in the ditch and runs to the van, then he drives the van back to the bike, picks up the bike and starts all over again with the next 5 miles. So, not only is he running the length of the highway, but he's also biking the same distance and driving twice the distance.

Maybe you can do the same thing. How old are you?
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Old 01-04-07, 11:29 PM
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Originally Posted by cydisc
Last summer, there was a story in the local paper about a guy who was running the length of every US highway whose number corresponded to his age. He was 69 years old last summer, so he was running US-69 from Texas to Minnesota. The story said he did this solo, with no support crew or anything.

I wondered how he did this all by himself. Turns out he has a van and a beater bicycle. He drives about 5 miles up the road, pulls out the bike and rides back to the starting point, leaves the bike in the ditch and runs to the van, then he drives the van back to the bike, picks up the bike and starts all over again with the next 5 miles. So, not only is he running the length of the highway, but he's also biking the same distance and driving twice the distance.

Maybe you can do the same thing. How old are you?

I can't wait for the day he runs past my parents' house on 121...
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Old 01-05-07, 12:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Eatadonut
I can't wait for the day he runs past my parents' house on 121...
he'll never make it... 'cause I-95 runs from florida to maine, and the philly stretch will get him for sure
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Old 01-05-07, 09:18 AM
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Check out the touring forum. You can tour on anything, but you'll be happiest on a bike with specific features. There is a lot of controversy about the best way to carry gear - panniers vs. a trailer. I've tried both. The trailer adds a bit more weight - noticable on hills, but takes some weight off the rear wheel - less chance of broken spokes. A BOB trailer doesn't have much wind resistance, and it follows the track of your wheels - much better for riding on narrow patches of pavement, avoiding obstacles, etc. With a two-wheeled trailer you have to take into account the wider wheelbase when choosing your line. A trailer designed to pull kids has a lot more wind resistance.

I think one of the first things to focus on is the rear wheel - get something built by hand by someone good, preferably with 36 spokes. My first long tour (west coast of US) was marred by broken spokes.

I've heard carbon frames aren't really suitable for carrying panniers or pulling a trailer. Most tourists seem to prefer steel, though there are lots of tourists on aluminum. Cannondale makes a couple of good touring bikes from aluminum.

If you don't want to spend a lot of money on a touring bike, an old mountain bike can be an economical choice. The 26" wheels are tough, the chainstays are usually a bit longer (for a soft stable ride, and for more heel clearance if you're carrying panniers) and they usually have pretty low gearing for climbing hills.

I think a triple chainring is almost mandatory for climbing hills with a load, although I started touring on an old 10-speed because that's all I had. I made it up the hills. (I lusted after the 15-speeds I saw!)

Having braze-ons for racks, fenders (with sufficient clearance), and 3 water bottle cages (for long stretches with no services) is nice. Most tourists favor wider tires - either road-type tires for 26" wheels or wide tires for 700mm wheels. I think this is for cushioning to prevent wheel-flex and spoke breaking (and also for comfort?) It's also nice if your route includes sections of gravel or dirt.
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Old 01-05-07, 09:41 AM
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A touring bike is a very specific piece of equipment. Not only is it made with stronger steel/aluminum/titanium, but it's built up to a custom geometry for a reason. Chain stays are typically much longer than on a road bike to balance the load farther off the back of the bike and keep your heels away from panniers. There's much more room between the front wheel and downtube. The steering tube angle & trail are usually much different because touring bikes are valued for their steering stability at slow speed. A road bike however, is rather twitchy at slow speeds but more stable than a touring bike at faster speeds.

Additionally, a touring bike is going to be equipped with braze-ons for extra water bottles, panniers, racks and fenders. And gearing will also be touring specific.

I'd strongly recommend a trip over to the Touring Forum: https://www.bikeforums.net/touring/

There are many helpful people over there.

EDIT: Ironically, a tri bike is pretty much at the exact other end of the spectrum from a touring bike in terms of geometry and materials. My best advice would be to not try to buy one bike that will do both, it's just not possible.

Last edited by greenstork; 01-05-07 at 09:48 AM.
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Old 01-05-07, 09:46 AM
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You're looking at pretty radically different bikes for the two purposes you listed. I don't know if there's anything that would be a good answer to that need.

You should check the touring section for better answers to this.
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Old 01-05-07, 09:50 AM
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Eldon Ward from www.fatmancycling.com rode from Nevada to Florida and reached the Atlanitc ocean last summer. You might check out his website to see what route he followed and get some ideas etc... he did it on a MT Bike.
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Old 01-05-07, 11:16 AM
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I'm not trying to mock you, but...

1. I'm planning on driving cross country, carrying all my luggage with me in the car.

and

2. I'm planning on entering some Formula one events along the way.

I don't want to have two cars, so what car should I buy?
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Old 01-05-07, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by superslomo
You're looking at pretty radically different bikes for the two purposes you listed. I don't know if there's anything that would be a good answer to that need.

You should check the touring section for better answers to this.
The purpose built bike for each purpose would be radically different. But with some comporomise you can do both with one. Buy a decent bike intended for Road racing/ fast club rides.

For the touring aspect put on a little stouter wheel and pull a BOB trailer. A racing bike pulling a BOB trailer may not be the ideal touring set up, but I can attest that it works ok.

For the tri, put on clip on bars , and some aero wheels.


Last time I posted that you can tour with a racing bike pulling a BOB trailer, I got flamed. Apparently upseting the sensibilities of the Touring crowd, who appear to believe you have to have a purpose built touring bike to tour. I'll grant that atouring bike would be ideal for touring, but its not a requirement.
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Old 01-05-07, 08:00 PM
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How Old Am I?

cydisc - you asked how old I am.......I'm a 37 year old male.

What I am struggling with is understanding why a road bike would not work. Is it because........

1 - it's not strong enough to pull a load behind
2 - not designed to be ridden 100 miles per day for several consecutive days
3 - my comfort
4 - touring bike will be easier to control when pulling a load up long hills


I'm not trying to be obtuse, but am struggling to understand and am very interested in learning BEFORE I buy. Please help me understand better and I do welcome your feedback (including the analogy about the two types of cars LOL).

What concerns me about a touring bike is that people are saying they don't travel very fast. One of the appeals to long distance backpacking is putting my body on cruise control and walking all day. I get to separate my body from mind and just go within myself "so to speak". I don't think I would enjoy something that is slow and clunky.

Am I misintepreting the performance of a touring bike by calling it slow and clunky?
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Old 01-05-07, 08:19 PM
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A bike is only as fast as it's rider. A touring bike isn't slow per se although it is most stable at slower speeds.

Do a little research about frame geometry and trail, which is essentially controlled by the angle of the head tube and the rake of the front fork. A road race bike and even more so a tri bike has a shorter trail/steeper head tube angle. This allows the bike to ride more stable at higher speeds, something you value when screaming down the mountain at 50+MPH. Frame materials are typically lighter and thinner. Fine for just you but when you start to load gear on racks and panniers, the bike becomes very flexy. Think of riding a slinky.

Whereas on a touring bike, you value its ability to load it up and stay stable at slower, more typical touring speeds, which can be downright slow hauling 60-80 lbs. plus rider up mountain passes. Frames are generally beefier and stiffer to accommodate the weight of a rider plus racks, panniers, and a full load.

As for other geometry differences, a road bike seat is typically much higher over the handlebars, usually to the tune of 3-4". It's certainly not as comfortable to ride in a more horizontal position for days on end, you'd end up with a sore neck and a sore back in all likelihood. Most touring bikes are designed more upright (seat more even, vertically, with bars), which is much more comfortable over the long haul, plus you're able to look around much easier and enjoy the scenery. The bottom bracket of a touring bike is lower, to maintain a lower center of gravity, it's easier for stopping and starting, and makes it more difficult to corner while pedaling. Exactly the opposite on a road bike with a higher BB -- aerodynamics also play a role.

I mentioned about the longer chain stays earlier, which is one of the primary reason for a bike with touring geometry. I've named at least 10 major differences between thge two bikes and there are dozens more little differences. These are tools, designed with a purpose in mind. You could try to find a bike to do two things, but you're going to make many compromises.

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Old 01-05-07, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by 7Sisters
cydisc - you asked how old I am.......I'm a 37 year old male.

What I am struggling with is understanding why a road bike would not work. Is it because........

1 - it's not strong enough to pull a load behind
2 - not designed to be ridden 100 miles per day for several consecutive days
3 - my comfort
4 - touring bike will be easier to control when pulling a load up long hills
1 - Yes . You're talking about hauling yourself and 40-50 pounds of gear along with you. A road bike just won't cut it. It's not built for that purpose. Most road bike frames won't take the heavier rims and tires needed to carry that sort of load - even towing a trailer. Road bike brakes may also be too weak to stop the bike with the extra load.

2 - Yes. Certainly you can ride a road bike 100 miles a day for a few days in a row, but there's also the issue of reliability. A road bike is more delicate and will break more quickly than a touring bike. Add a 40-50 pound load and it'll break even quicker. If you're going into the middle of nowhere, you want your gear to be as reliable as possible - you don't want the bike to break down at all.

3 - Yes. A touring bike will generally be more comfortable and forgiving than a road bike. You can also put fenders on it, so you won't get splashed when it rains.

4 - Yes. The longer geometry will make it more stable, particularly under load. It might not be as much of an issue with a trailer, but it will still help.


Originally Posted by 7Sisters
What concerns me about a touring bike is that people are saying they don't travel very fast. One of the appeals to long distance backpacking is putting my body on cruise control and walking all day. I get to separate my body from mind and just go within myself "so to speak". I don't think I would enjoy something that is slow and clunky.

Am I misintepreting the performance of a touring bike by calling it slow and clunky?
Well.... drop the 40-50 pounds of gear off the bike and it'll seem REALLY fast.

My suggestion is to look for some sort of compromise frame, like a steel cyclocross bike with room for fenders, bigger rims/tires and with cantilever brakes. Buy a set of lighter wheels for normal riding, swap them out for heavy wheels when touring.

Surly Crosscheck and Soma Doublecross come to mind, but these are hardly time trial bikes.
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Old 01-05-07, 09:17 PM
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I have an aluminum Cannondale touring bike which can mount front and rear racks, 3rd bottle, etc. If I take off the touring wheels and put on lighter ones it weighs about 24 pounds. Not super light, but it works for centuries and club rides. I suppose it would work in a triathlon o.k. I also have a C'dale CAAD 5 which has a triple crank and 36 hole wheels and could pull a BOB trailer cross country and be set up for triathlon, too. I've toured cross country and saw riders on sport/race bikes doing multi-day tours with backpacks. A key is the wheels, sturdy for touring and a light set for race day.
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Old 01-05-07, 09:19 PM
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How much do you weigh? I'm 210# and my touring (motels) load totals around 265-270#
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Old 01-06-07, 06:00 AM
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how much do I weigh

I weigh 175-180 (depending on the time of the season LOL). Based on the equipment I bring backpacking, I am expecting to be carrying an additional 25-30 lbs of gear. I don't expect to have to carry a significant amount of food as I would imagine I would be coming across towns more often (depending on route).

My gear from backpacking:
backpack
tent
sleeping bag
filter & water
cooking pot and stove
food
journal
extra cloths (socks, and a shirt in summer)
headlamp
shoes
rain gear - top and bottom
camera
lock

New Gear:
tubes
tires ?
pump
tools?
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Old 01-06-07, 06:06 AM
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Point of clarification

I want to clarifiy a point regarding my Olympic distance tri's.

I am looking to particapate in tri's, but am no way looking for a time trial bike. I am comfortable just doing the best I can do. A time trial bike is too specific for my needs, so that is not an option. Also will be interested in pulling my little daughter in a little pull behind cart. She's 9 months old and counting.......

peace be with you
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Old 01-06-07, 09:34 AM
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Well.....my advice would be to stick with a "racing" type bike, and do the PAC Tour:

www.pactour.com

It's a very well-supported tour and lasts under a month. By the time you're physically ready to do it, you should at least have a month of vacation time accrued to attempt it.
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Old 01-06-07, 09:59 AM
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I think you can do what you want with one bike, if you are willing to swap out some of the components based on the task you are using it for at the time. I'd recommend looking at a Bianchi Volpe, which is suitable for light touring and/or pulling a trailer, but still fairly light and nimble. If you have the budget, consider a Litespeed Blueridge.
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Old 01-06-07, 10:21 AM
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You might want to go over to the touring forum and pose your questions there. To be frank, the people over here on the road bike forum worry about putting extra grams on their bikes! Putting extra pounds on the bike is just inconceivable
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Old 01-06-07, 10:53 AM
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I can't believe I haven't seen anyone mention www.crazyguyonabike.com yet. A brilliant website that makes me want to get up and bike tour no matter what I'm doing...
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Old 01-06-07, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by chipcom
I think you can do what you want with one bike, if you are willing to swap out some of the components based on the task you are using it for at the time. I'd recommend looking at a Bianchi Volpe, which is suitable for light touring and/or pulling a trailer, but still fairly light and nimble. If you have the budget, consider a Litespeed Blueridge.
Yeah, one bike could do it, as long as the OP understands that he's making compromises for touring and road riding, and what those compromises are. With a higher budget, I'd also recommend the Independent Steel Club Racer.
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Old 01-06-07, 03:24 PM
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What's evident to me is that the OP hasn't spent a lot off time on a bike to understand the differences between different types of geometry suited to the riding he is planning. He's more concerned about whether or not it's perceived as slow than about whether sitting upright or stretched out and horizontal is a good idea for touring.

If you never see yourself riding in a pace line, joining a local race club, or decking yourself out in a full team kit, then I'd strongly steer you away from a road bike, given the other purposes you've outlined. A club racer, sport tourer, or even quite a few cyclocross bikes would work well. Minus some carbon, these bikes look just like road bikes to the untrained eye. And speed is all about fitness -- I drop people on road bikes on my commute sometimes, and I ride a MTB with 26" slicks.

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Old 01-06-07, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by greenstork
What's evident to me is that the OP hasn't spent a lot off time on a bike to understand the differences between different types of geometry suited to the riding he is planning. He's more concerned about whether or not it's perceived as slow than about whether sitting upright or stretched out and horizontal is a good idea for touring.
Greenstork - Let me take a quick minute to correct you. While you are completely correct, that I have not spent a lot of time on a bike (other than Mountain) you are way off base regarding your comment about what I am worried about.

So let me be clear with you. I am concerned about sinking a grand + into a bike that I find out doesn't work well for me. What I had (which became my perception), was that touring bikes are slow and for lolligaging (sp?) around while they are weighed down with a ton of gear. I'm not interested in casually strolling through the country side. That's not my personality.

I am however interested in learning which is why I am willing to ask the questions and throw out my perceptions (so the can be challenged). Not sure how you learn, but that is how I learn.

This forum and thread have paid huge dividends already as I have increased my understanding of bike geometry and avalable bikes an incredible amount (was starting from minimal so it wasn't hard !).

Anyway your patience and help are greatly appreciated - However, I felt the need to correct your post.

By the way.... What does OP stand for? I realize if referring to me, but what does it mean?
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